The iPad Pro

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I purchased an iPad Pro 12.9″ (the big one) a few weeks ago and wanted to give my opinions on it now that I have had it for a while. I got the silver 128gb cellular iPad Pro. I also purchased the Smart Keyboard and the Apple Pencil (more on the accessories later). I was not sure how I was going to like it, at first it seems comically large, but after spending some time with it I absolutely love it.
The Hardware – There’s no denying that the 12.9″ iPad Pro is huge. It is also pretty heavy when compared to the standard 9.7″, 1.57 pounds vs .96 pounds, but it is about as light as it can be given the size of the device. The Retina display is a joy to look at & I just love how big the display is. In fact, it has quite a bit more screen space then my laptop for the last several years, the 11″ MacBook Air. The speakers are a huge improvement over the previous iPads. There are now four speakers as opposed to two and they are on each corner of the iPad Pro. They get really loud if you crank them, so much so that I have not found the need to connect it to a bluetooth speaker. The battery life has been really good as well. I’m getting 12+ hours even when watching a ton of video. And the standby time has been great as well. I love that there is just zero battery anxiety with this device, if you have it fully charged in the morning you will not run it down in the course of a day.

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The battery life on the iPad Pro is legit.

Another new hardware addition on the iPad Pro is the new smart connector on the bottom of the iPad when it is in landscape. This 3 pin connector allows it to attach to various 1st and 3rd party accessories wirelessly and with no power required from the accessory. This is a really cool new feature, one that I use nearly constantly with my Smart Keyboard.

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The Smart Connector

Lastly, the A9x chip and 4gb of ram make the iPad Pro 12.9″ super fast. Everything just flies on this thing.

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Test results from the Geekbench app on my iPad Pro 12.9″

Overall, I really like the hardware of the iPad Pro. However there are a few nitpicks that I have with the hardware:

  1. Apple ships the iPad Pro with a dinky 12w charger that takes a very long time to charge the iPad. The 12.9″ iPad Pro supports fast charging via USB-C, but you have to pay about $75 for the necessary charger and cable. This is ridiculous on a device at this price point. They should ship it with the proper adaptor and cable.
  2. The iPad Pro is really not a one handed device, unlike the mini or regular size iPad. It is pretty unwieldy in portrait orientation. If you want something to read books on or slip into your purse, this is probably not the right device for you.

The Software – The new multitasking features introduced in iOS9 for the iPad were just made for the 12.9″ iPad Pro. Multitasking truly feels at home on this big screen. It gives you almost 2 full size iPad apps side by side. Check out the multitasking view in the picture below.

Narwhal (Reddit client) on the left, Safari on the right, and a picture in picture baseball game on top.

 

I have found myself using the multitasking view so much more with the Pro than I did with my iPad Air 2. There are a few other new software features that the 12.9 Pro gets, namely a full size software keyboard with a number row & a two column today view. These are still the early days for the 12.9″ iPad so while I feel like things will get better on the software front, not everything is rosy right now. A few of my gripes are –

  1. You can only have the same amount of icons on the home screen as all of the other iPads. There is so much wasted space!
  2. Some of the apps are still not optimized for split screen (Pocket), picture in picture (YouTube), or even the new screen size ūüė° (Facebook).
  3. The multitasking app picker is just awful at trying to find the app you want. There needs to be a complete redesign as well as a search bar.

The Accessories – When Apple announced the iPad Pro, it also announced two brand new accessories that only work with the Pro – The Smart Keyboard & the Apple Pencil. I own both and would like to tell you my thoughts on each.

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The smart keyboard is awesome, it has a full sized keyboard & doubles as a cover for the front of the iPad Pro.

The Smart Keyboard – Before I purchased my iPad Pro, I did a lot of research on various cases & keyboards. I narrowed my choices down to two options – the Smart Keyboard & the Logitech Create. Both keyboards have their pros & cons & both support the new smart connector on the iPad Pro. I decided on the Smart Keyboard due to it’s lighter weight, more minimal design, & the ability to pull it off as easily as a smart cover when I just¬†want to use it as an iPad. That second part ended up not mattering much because I absolutely love the Smart Keyboard and would estimate it is connected to my iPad Pro 95% of the time that I use it. Some combination of it being a full size keyboard, it instantly responding to you pressing a key with no need to wait for a bluetooth connection, never needing to be charged, and all of the keyboard shortcuts available for the iPad in iOS 9, have just endeared me to this accessory in a way I had not imagined it would. I use it setting on a table, my desk, on my lap, as a stand for watching streaming content, etc. This is the accessory for the iPad Pro in my opinion. It also completely takes away one of my gripes with the 12.9″ Pro, namely it being a little hard to hold comfortably for extended periods. With the Smart Keyboard, my iPad simply rests on my desk or on my lap with no strain on my hands at all. Would it be better with backlit keys and a shortcut row of keys? Absolutely, and I hope that a future version does all of that but for what it is, I absolutely love it.

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The Apple Pencil – Oh, the Apple pencil. It’s so beautiful and I love it so much, but I am not quite as bullish on it as I am on my Smart Keyboard. On one hand it is the best stylus I have ever used hands down. I’ve tried out a bunch of iPad styluses as well as the styluses for the Surface Pro 4 and the Surface Book, and the Apple Pencil is just better. It has the least amount of latency I have seen and it is a joy to use. It is really fun to use in an adult coloring book app called Pigment. It is also really cool to take handwritten notes in Notability¬†and Apple Notes. It’s useful for editing photos as well. But the main thing it is awesome for is for artists. If you like to draw, this is the stylus for doing that with. Unfortunately, I am not even close to being an artist so using the Apple Pencil for drawing is not something I can really take advantage of. This leads to me not using it that often and for what it cost, it’s hard to justify recommending it if you are not an artist or a big handwritten notes taker. I got it solely because I was excited about trying it out and because it looks so beautiful. I am trying to figure out ways that I can use it but right now it is not used as much as my Smart Keyboard.

So those are my thoughts on the iPad Pro. I love it and use it every day. I go for days without turning on my Mac since I got it. The fact that I can have a 12.9″ Retina display with tons of storage & power, LTE connectivity, all day battery life, and the huge app selection of iOS in a device that weighs what the original iPad weighed is just mind blowing to me. ¬†At the same time, I know that the iPad Pro is not for everybody, especially the big one. It’s not a cheap device & some people are still more comfortable with a laptop or a desktop. That’s perfectly fine, use the device that is right for you but I firmly believe that the 12.9″ iPad Pro is the right device for me.

 

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My Favorite Things of 2015

Hey guys, as we enter into another year I wanted to take minute to look back on 2015 and see what some of my favorite things of 2015 were. These are all things I acquired or enjoyed last year. Here’s to an even better year in 2016!applewatch1

Apple Watch – I love my Apple Watch for many reasons. I love how it looks, I love getting notifications on my wrist, I love how many times it saves me from pulling my phone out of my pocket, but most of all I love the fitness tracking and activity goals it provides. I have been more active this year than in the past 6 or 7 years and trying to fill those little activity rings every day was a big part of it. I even joined a gym for the first time in my life when it got too cold for me to exercise outside. Yes, this product is not for the masses yet but I couldn’t imagine going without it. Link

 

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It’s so beautiful.

S’well Water Bottle – I ran across these in a store downtown and instantly fell in love with the design of this water bottle. If Jony Ive designed a water bottle, I believe it would look something like this. It also keeps my drink cold for 24 hours plus which is awesome. It is expensive but I have loved using it all year. Link

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4th Generation Apple TV – I’ve had every version of the Apple TV but the 4th generation is far and away Apple’s best set-top box they have ever released. From the powerful processor that makes everything run so smooth, to the new app store with a ton of apps to download, it is a pleasure to use. Siri voice control works extremely well & the screen-savers (yes, screen-savers) Apple included are absolutely breathtaking. This is the box we use to watch everything now. The only time the PS4 get’s turned on anymore is for gaming. Link

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Joby Mini Gorillapod & Square Jellyfish Spring Tripod Mount РI have fallen in love with shooting time lapses with my iPhone 6 Plus this year and these two items work together to help me shoot them. I love how compact this whole setup is. It is amazing what you can capture with an iPhone and a few simple tools these days! Link1 Link2

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Oakley Method 360 Backpack – I have a huge weakness for bags and picked up this one down in Austin this year. It has been my everyday bag from that day on. It has all the right pockets and can hold a ton of stuff if needed. Link

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Star Wars: The Force Awakens – Even with all the hype this movie blew me away. I’ve seen it twice and would see it again in a heartbeat. A true cinematic masterpiece.

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My first two boxes. Sniff.

Fiery Chicken Fries – Burger King – Burger King’s Chicken Fries are one of my all-time favorite foods & when Burger King brought them back permanently in early 2015 I didn’t think that it could get any better than that. I was wrong. In the summer for one month only Burger King released Fiery Chicken Fries and they were glorious! I ate so many of them that I got sick. As soon as I felt better I got some more. I have ate a lot of fast food in my days and I do believe that the Fiery Chicken Fries are the greatest fast food item of all time! Honorable mentions go to Wendy’s Home Style Chicken Strips & Jack In The Box’s Spicy Chicken Bites, may they both rest in peace.

Thanks for reading! Feel free to follow me on Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, or Facebook. I am ibmacin on everything.

Apple Pay

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My local bank has just recently started supporting Apple Pay and I wanted to post my thoughts on it now that I have had it for a couple of weeks. It was a long time coming with me frequently checking this site here to see if my bank had added support for it.

First, let me talk about how Apple Pay works. Basically, you add either a supported credit card or in my case a bank debit card to the wallet app that is on your iPhone or Apple Watch. Once you have that loaded up you can use it at any place that accepts contactless payments.

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If you see one of these logos, you should be good to go.

If you are using your iPhone you simply hold it near the credit card machine and it will prompt you to hold your finger on the Touch ID fingerprint sensor on your iPhone and it will let you know that it went through. If you are using your Apple Watch you simply double press the contacts button on the side and hold your watch near the contactless sensor. The Apple Watch will give you a tap on the wrist as well as give you a little chime that it went through. That’s it. I just works and I must say it is delightful!

Next I want to talk about how I’ve been using Apple Pay. I have used it multiple times with both my iPhone as well as my Apple Watch & I gotta say, while it is cool paying for stuff with my iPhone it brings a real dumb grin to my face to pay with my Apple Watch. I cannot imagine it ever getting old either. It almost always delights the salesperson when they see what you have done. There is something so¬†futuristic¬†about it. So far I have bought several meals, a soda from a Coke machine at an outlet mall, as well as a toy¬†“figurine” from Toys R Us with my watch. I absolutely love it!

Lastly I want to talk about what the future holds for Apple Pay. Obviously, more and more banks will be adding support for it. They all love it because your information is stored in a secure chip on the iPhone itself and it uses one time verification codes with the merchant so it is much more secure than swiping your debit card in a machine or handing your card to someone. But the thing I’m most looking forward to is more retailers supporting it. The dream would be to be able to use Apple Pay exclusively and no longer have to carry a bunch of cards with you. We’re not there yet. I am anxiously waiting for Target as well as my local grocery store¬†to add support for it. For now, I’m happy to use it wherever it is accepted.

Apple Music

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I wanted to post my first impressions on Apple Music since it launched on Tuesday June 30th. I have been listening to it every day since and here are my initial thoughts.

  • The 3 month free trial is very nice and will give me plenty of time to decide if I want to pay $9.99 or $14.99 for the family plan after the trial ends.
  • The service seems to work pretty good and almost every song I have searched for has been available.
  • The new Music icon on iOS and the new iTunes icon on Mac are pretty dope (a small but nice touch).
  • The curated playlists are really close to my tastes. I have very diverse musical tastes so color me impressed that they were able to provide me with stuff that is interesting to me.
  • Beats 1, the new radio station has been the biggest surprise for me. That Apple was able to pull off an old school radio station but at the same time make it modern for todays kids is most impressive. I have already discovered about 15 songs I really like that I had never heard before thanks to listening to Beats 1. Apple Music makes it very easy to save these songs for offline listening as well. Zane Lowe is my favorite of the Beats 1 DJs so far. I really like his energy.
  • One complaint I have regarding Beats 1 is it has had some hiccups ever since it’s launch. It frequently will stop the music for no reason and force me to hit play again for it to start back up again. Hopefully they get these issues worked out soon.

Over the last few years my music listening has pretty much disappeared as I started listening to more and more podcasts. When I do listen to music it is the same 3 or 4 albums over and over. I have stopped listening to any traditional radio as well as it seems to get more and more terrible as the years go on. I have really enjoyed using Apple music these last few days and while I don’t think I will ever go back to just listening to music I can see myself having a more even split between music and podcasts. Also, even if I decide not to pay for Apple Music after the free trial, Beats 1 will still be free to listen to and I plan to keep tuning in when I can.

The Apple Watch – First Impressions

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At 9:00 this morning I picked up my shiny new Apple Watch Sport 42mm Silver w/ White Sport Band at my local UPS warehouse. Pro tip: You can select to have your item left at the warehouse instead of going on a UPS truck, that way you can pick it up several hours earlier than the UPS truck would normally get it to you. I have been wearing it ever since and would like to give my first impressions on it. I am planning on reviewing it, but will need to spend much more time with it first.

  • The Apple Watch is very easy and quick to set up. I was up and running in just a few minutes.
  • The magnetic charging cable is pretty good. It attaches to the back very easily and it has a nice long cord.
  • It really is beautiful. I love the way it looks and feels on my wrist.
  • The raise to see the time gesture has worked flawlessly everytime so far for me. Just raise your arm and the watch comes alive. Put your arm back down and the screen turns off. Simple.
  • The taptic touches you get when a notification comes in is so cool. It’s way different than a vibration, just a gentle tap on the wrist.

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  • Force touch is really cool. You just press¬†harder¬†on the screen than you normally would to bring up additional information. I really hope Apple adds this to the next¬†iPhone.
  • The digital crown on the side of the watch is great. Scrolling it with your finger is¬†so smooth. It was a little looser than I was expecting, but it works great for scrolling through messages or emails.
  • Making and receiving phone calls works fine. Yes, it is a little weird talking into your watch, but it’s also incredibly¬†cool! I feel like a secret agent!
  • Likewise, sending messages works great as well. You don’t type them out, but the watch will give you some suggestions or you can dictate a response. You can then either send the message it transcribed or just send the voice clip. It has worked great for me so far.

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  • I think I am really going to enjoy the fitness & activity apps. As I was driving for a couple of hours today, the watch tapped my wrist and said I should get up and stand for a little bit. Thanks, watch, I probably should!
  • There’s already a really good selection of apps available for the watch. There are around 3,000 apps¬†already available on the first day. A few I think are pretty neat are Overcast, Yelp, Instagram, ESPN, and Evernote.
  • I was curious how noticeable it would be wearing it. My wife and I visited a large mall today and nobody seemed to notice it except a couple of employees at the Apple Store. It seems to blend in fairly well.
  • Battery life seems like it will be fine. I charged it over 12 hours ago and it is at 63% right now. Of course, time will tell if this is always the case.

That’s it for now. I am really looking forward to¬†spending more time with it. So far I am very pleased with it.

*Special thanks to my wife for taking the pictures in this post!*

The iPhone 6 Plus

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As many of you know I got an iPhone 6 Plus about a month and a half ago. I have used it as my only phone every day since and think that I have had enough time with it to do a full review. The model I got is the AT&T 64gb Silver version. Let’s get right to it.

Design

The iPhone 6 Plus (as well as the 6) are quite a bit different design wise than the previous 2 models of iPhone. While the iPhone 4, 4S, 5, & 5S all had flat edges and a chamfered cut, the iPhone 6 & 6 Plus have curved edges with an all aluminum back. It’s quite a different feel in the hand and has it’s plusses and minuses in my opinion. While it feels better in the hand to me and is very pleasing when swiping from the edge of the screen to the sides it is quite a bit more slippery in the hand than the older models. Also, while I still think it is a beautiful phone, it just doesn’t have that classic Leica look of the iPhone 4 & 5. To me, those phones just felt and looked so solid. This is all just a matter of taste of course but I would have loved to have seen a bigger iPhone done in the style of the iPhone 5S.

The iPhone 6 Plus is really thin. At just 7.1 mm thin it is the second thinnest iPhone ever. Only the iPhone 6 at 6.9mm is thinner. So while it is a lot bigger phone than any of my previous phones, it is by far the thinnest phone I have had. I really appreciate the thinness & at just 6.1 ounces it is really light for it’s size as well.

Another change that the 6 & 6 Plus have is the sleep/wake button has moved from the top of the phone to the right side. This is necessary due to the larger size of the phone which would make reaching the top of the phone much more difficult compared to the previous models. The volume buttons and mute toggle switch all feel fine to me.

The screen on the iPhone 6 Plus is a 5.5″ 1080p display (1920 x 1080) which is good for 401 ppi. I have no complaints about this screen at all. It has excellent color reproduction, great contrast, gets plenty bright enough, and is a great size in my opinion. It is quite a change going from the 4″ display of the iPhone 5S to this. You can see so much more information on this screen than you could on previous iPhones and it is just a pleasure to read on. I’ve found that I am much more likely to read on my phone now than I did in the past.¬†It has definitely cut into the time I previously would have used my iPad mini.

The iPhone 6 & 6 Plus have a new “reachability” mode which you access by tapping the home button twice. Doing this brings the top half of the screen down to the bottom half so that you can reach the icons at the top while using the phone one handed. While this is a cool trick I don’t really find myself using it much at all. Instead I have just started holding my phone higher up than I used to and I can pretty much reach everywhere without doing this. If you have small hands, this would probably be more useful. Here’s a gif of how it works:

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A few nitpicks about the design: One, the antenna lines on the back are kind of ugly. I appreciate the effort to go all aluminum on the back but to me, the glass on the top and bottom of the previous iPhone models looked better. Two, the back camera on both the 6 and 6 Plus sticks out just a little from the casing, causing the phone to wobble slightly if laid on a flat surface. I know most people (myself included) will use a case which will negate this but it still kind of sucks if you are one that likes to go without a case.

All that being said I do really love the design of the 6 Plus. It took a couple of weeks to get used to the size coming from an iPhone 5S but I have fully adjusted and have no desire to go back. I have picked up my wife’s iPhone 5 several times since getting the 6 Plus and I cannot get over how small it now feels to me. I know all of the Android fans are like “We’ve had giant phones for years” but it’s nice to have the bigger size in the iPhone. Better late than never in my opinion.

Camera

If there’s one thing about iPhones most people can agree on, it’s that the cameras they use are excellent.¬†While both the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus are still sporting 8 megapixel cameras, I believe that they are the best smartphone cameras yet. I can’t go into near the detail that these guys go into¬†but I can tell you that for everyday shooting the camera on the iPhone 6 Plus is great. It has incredibly fast autofocus and the built in optical image stabilization helps a lot in low light situations as well as when shooting video.

I still wouldn’t use it for taking vacation pictures or for something like my child growing up if I had one, that’s what my Sony NEX 6 is for, but for everyday photo taking for Facebook & Instagram it is more than sufficient.

It also takes some really nice panoramas, up to 43 megapixels. Here is one I shot downtown the other day:

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As far as video is concerned it seems to do a really good job. I have had a lot of fun playing with the new 240fps Slo-Mo mode. There is an excellent video of some skateboarders shot with this feature that I will put below. This was shot handheld with an unsteady hand and it still came out really smooth.

Performance

The 6 Plus comes with a 1.4 GHz 64 bit A8 processor. Performance on the 6 Plus is very good. I haven’t noticed any slowdown when using it. If I could change one thing it would be for Apple to give us 2gb of ram as opposed to the 1gb it has. This would seriously cut down on your safari tabs and apps in the background having to reload so often. Apple did give the new iPad Air 2gb of ram so I am hopeful that future iPhone models will as well. I have attached a screenshot of my Geekbench score below:

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Battery

This right here is probably the strongest part of the iPhone 6 Plus to me. This phone is an absolute beast in regards to battery life. I cannot kill it in a single day no matter how hard I try.

On weekends when I’m not using it much I can easily go 2 days without a charge. A normal work day of me getting up at 7:00 AM, using it hard throughout the day and night and plugging in in around 10:30 or 11:00 PM will have it at 40-50%. My iPhone 5S ¬†could barely make it through a work day at all. I would normally charge it in the afternoon so that I wouldn’t have to worry about it dying that night.

I cannot stress how nice it is to not have to worry about the battery on my phone at all anymore. It’s one less thing for me to worry about everyday and that’s a very good thing.

Touch ID

After a month and a half, Touch ID is still working great for me. Touch ID is so convenient and it would be very hard to go back to a phone that doesn’t have it. I wish I had it on my iPad and my MacBook. It just works.

Apple Pay

I unfortunately have not had the chance to try out Apple Pay yet as my bank still doesn’t support it. I have emailed their support and they have responded saying they will probably be offering it sometime this year. If they do, I will be sure to come back and update this section with my thoughts on how well it works. Reports of people who have used it have been generally positive. This video does a decent job of showing how it works:

Accessories

I have bought a couple of cases for my new iPhone. As much as I would like to go without a case the phone is just too slippery for me to trust it. I am very careful with my phone though so I wanted something very minimal. I ended up buying the official Apple leather case a well as the Griffin Reveal. Both cases are very thin while providing much improved grip as well as negating the back camera bulge. The Apple case specifically gives the phone a really solid grip. The Griffin case has decent grip with the rubber bumper on the sides while having a clear back so you can still see the design of the phone. I really love both cases and switch between them constantly.

Wrap-up

So there you have it. Is the iPhone 6 Plus a good phone? Absolutely! Is it the right phone for everyone? Absolutely not! For some it will be just too big. Luckily Apple makes the iPhone 6 as well. But if you have been waiting for a big phone that runs iOS I would wholeheartedly recommend the iPhone 6 Plus. I am very satisfied with it and can’t imagine going back. Thanks for reading.

Extra

I love reading and watching tech reviews (big surprise). I have read and watched probably over 100 reviews of the iPhone 6 Plus. My absolute favorite one is by my absolute favorite youtuber MKBHD. Do yourself a favor and check out his video review if you are interested in this phone.

 

 

Quick Thoughts on the iPhone 6 Plus

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I got an iPhone 6 Plus over the weekend and wanted to give my first impressions of it. I got the AT&T silver 64gb model. I will hopefully have a more in-depth review after I have had it for a month or two.

  1. The iPhone 6 Plus is really big, especially coming from the 4″ iPhone 5S. It is fairly hard to use one-handed even though I have fairly large hands. That kinda bums me out but I love how much easier it is to type on it and the screen is just gorgeous. For me the positives of it being big outweigh the negatives but this is definitely not a phone for everyone.
  2. The battery life is really great. I used it heavily today at work. I listened to several podcasts, made a ton of phone calls, browsed the internet during lunch, & used bluetooth all day. It hasn’t been charged at all since 7:00 am. It is now 9:00pm and it is at 38% battery. This is much better than my 5S which struggled to get through a full day of even light use without needing to be recharged.
  3. The built in speaker is really loud. Yes, it’s still on the bottom of the phone and yes it is still mono but it is much better than the speaker on the 5S. I still want something like HTC BoomSound on the iPhone though!
  4. ¬†I thought I would have a hard time adjusting to the sleep/wake button being on the right side instead of on the top but I haven’t at all. It really does make more sense for it to be there than to have to reach all the way to the top.
  5. Touch ID seems to be even better. It was already working extremely well on my 5S but it has been perfect with the 6 Plus even right after washing my hands, which is when it usually fails for me. I don’t know if there is actually a better Touch ID sensor in this phone or if it is just because I had to retrain my fingerprints but it has been a pleasant surprise.
  6. The apps that I have that are not optimized for the new screen size do look pretty janky. Hopefully they will get updated soon.
  7. Overall I really like the iPhone 6 Plus. It is definitely different but I really think I made the right choice for me. I highly suggest that you spend some time with one in the store before buying though. The iPhone 6 may be the better choice for you.
  8. Things I haven’t got to try yet and hope to soon are how much better are the new cameras, the new 240fps slo-mo video, how well the M8 processor tracks stairs climbed, & lastly, Apple Pay. Sadly my local bank doesn’t support it yet so I will just have to dream of what it would be like to pay for McDonalds with my phone.